Thursday, August 7

Darfur = South Sudan?

The international medias today have been all over the story of Lopez Lomong, a refugee from Sudan and a recent American citizen, who has been chosen to carry the U.S. flag at the Olympics' opening ceremonies. Beijing is under fire for giving arms to the Sudanese government, which are used in the conflict in the western region of Darfur, the very conflict that Lopez fled...

The USA Today headline: "Darfur refugee to carry flag for U.S. at opening ceremony"

From AFP:
Just a day after four American cyclists apologised for wearing pollution masks on their entry into Beijing, the US team risked upsetting their Chinese hosts again by selecting a refugee from the Darfur conflict to be their flag-bearer at Friday's opening ceremony.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Lomong, now a U.S. citizen, was one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan" - a generation rooted out of its Darfur homeland and subjected to torment and murder.
From the San Diego Union Tribune:
Lopez Lomong, 23, escaped the violence in Darfur and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for a decade before being relocated to New York as part of a U.S. program to house the so-called “Lost Boys of Sudan.”
The only problem is that Lomong isn't from Darfur. He's from south Sudan (as several reports, including this one from Reuters, mention). When Lomong fled Sudan at the age of six, which would have been around 1991, there was no Darfur conflict in the sense that there is today. Yes, the government used many of the same tactics in its war against the south as it did in Darfur (though fewer people have called for the southern conflict to be labelled a genocide) and Lomong is a member of the Team Darfur group of athletes protesting China's support for Sudan. But Darfur is not south Sudan, and the failure to make that distinction can only arm the critics who say activists have little understanding of the complexities of Sudan's wars.

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